After sprinting to school record, Springdale’s Gent sets sights on WPIAL, PIAA success

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Monday, May 2, 2022 | 12:59 PM


Colton Gent joined the Springdale track and field team to stay in shape and to continue training for football season.

The freshman made an immediate contribution last fall as a running back, wide receiver, defensive back and return specialist for the Dynamos but wanted to improve his speed.

Mission accomplished.

Gent sprinted into Springdale’s record book earlier this spring, clocking a time of 11.3 seconds in the 100-meter dash to surpass the mark of Andy Armour, who set the previous record of 11.56 in 2016.

“I never thought I was going to be this serious until I got a decent time,” he said. “Now, it’s just give it all I got.”

Gent started the season running a 12.7 in the 100 but quickly dropped time as he honed his start and technique.

“I’ve definitely improved a lot,” he said. “I feel like my technique has gotten better. That’s helped a lot.

“It’s all about the start, 100%. It’s also about technique. You have to keep your head down when launching off, then halfway you just pick up and give it all you’ve got.”

A mark of 11.3 would have been good enough for third place at the 2021 WPIAL Class 2A championships and likely will earn him a spot at this year’s WPIAL meet, which is scheduled for May 18 at Slippery Rock.

Athletes who post the top 16 times/distances in each Class 2A event during the regular season qualify for WPIALs. He also has posted a time of 24.3 seconds in the 200.

“He’s been very competitive in our section meets,” first-year coach Nicole Tryon said. “He’s a ninth-grader, so there’s a lot of time for him to improve, too. He’s going against a lot of senior kids.”

Another Springdale sprinter is making a run at qualifying for the WPIAL meet. Sophomore Dashanae Beard has been leading the way on the girls team, regularly finishing first or second in section meets in the 100 and 200.

“Just keep my head up, keep my knees up high and just breathe,” she said. “I need to work on my breathing and go straight for it.”

Beard also runs in the 400-meter relay with Ahlainna Lang, Tara Overly and Mackenzie Greenawalt.

Other top performers for Springdale include freshman Caleb Lehey in the 800 and 1,600; senior Andrew Haus in the javelin; and the jumping group of seniors Gage Howard and Brianna Thompson and junior Bella Burrell.

“This group that we have has been very, very good,” said Tryon, whose teams swept Clairton and South Allegheny in section meets. “Very competitive, wanting to succeed, listening to the coaches, taking our advice.

“We have a smaller group than we have before because covid really hurt our numbers. We were at 60 kids before covid. Now we’re at like 25. The year right after covid were at 14. We’ve made an uptick, but we’d still like to get more kids involved.”

The Dynamos will cap the regular season — and make a final push for WPIAL qualifying times — at the Section 4-2A invitational Thursday at Shady Side Academy.

Gent hopes it will be another step toward reaching his goals.

“I’d like to run a state time (11.3),” he said.

“I’d love to go WPIALs. I’m pushing for states.”

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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